Sunday, June 28, 2015

The end of June 2015

Welcome back to another episode of Lost In The Farmers Market. I have to open this post with a bit about weather safety. As you may realize, the recent weather has brought us a lot of rain, but also with it comes a bit of danger. As those of you who live in Fayetteville might have noticed, the thunderstorms while excellent at providing much needed rain, are also perfect conditions for high winds, potential tornadoes, flash floods and or hail. There is also the risk of downed trees, and flying debris to consider. In our last storm we received 1.6” of rain and the one before that 2” and the mega storm two weeks ago 3”, this poses several problems. The fertilizer you applied in your fields may have washed out, yet you’re getting a mega-dose of atmospheric nitrogen. Likewise with all the water flowing through you may have lost some topsoil. These storm cycles are excellent for certain crops such as figs but terrible for more delicate fruits. In the end I advise that all of you who read this remember to take caution during storms, the severe weather advisories seen on TV and the Radio are no joke even if the weird sound effects on the radio ones make them seem so.
With that in mind I did not attend the Saturday market this week because of the weather, we had a line of ugly storms come through on Friday evening and they persisted into the early morning hours of Saturday. Honestly, with the high daytime temperatures and the thunderstorm activity, I think we can officially call it Monsoon season. Despite this, as you know, we are in the middle of transfer season, the spring veggies are nearing their end, but the summer herbs, and perennials are just about to begin. I’ll keep a variety of peppers tomatoes and a few other odds and ends available, but expect more of the fine summer specials, and of course aloe vera plants in three sizes for your medicinal enjoyment. The new plant list should be available and posted up here later in the week.  In the next post I’m going to show you some tricks to help keep your garden irrigated in these difficult weather conditions. For this week I finish this post with a photo or two.

Aloe barbadensis/vera – Medicinal Aloe
This is ‘Big Mother’ the oldest aloe in the collection and the largest potted house plant I own. I’ve had this plant for about five years, and for most of that time it has been in an small 6” pot. The aloe plant was so heavy that it used to top over its old pot so I had to put it in a large thick-walled container made out of terra cotta and weigh it down with stones so it would not tip over. Earlier this year ‘Big Mother’ was repotted finally to a much larger 12” pot as seen in the picture. All the little aloes I’m selling came from this one plant and as you can see, this aloe is now free of pups.  Grown 100% organically, you will have a hard time finding healthier plants.

Adenium obesum – Desert Rose
The desert Rose is one of those plants that a plant enthusiast seeks out for the reward of its blooms. Sort of like a Holiday cactus in use, the Desert rose validates the effort to find one by blooming once a year with stunning blooms that are pink, red or some shade in-between. A well cared for Desert rose will bloom twice a year or in the case of mine twice a year and on every stem. The blooms can be so heavy that the stems bend and desert roses can get so large that they resemble a small shrub with corky bark. As for care, you barely water or fertilize this succulent and treat it like a true tropical. This puts a cork in the bottle for this weeks post, check back for another post later detailing the current plant selection and DIY irrigation tricks.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Riders On the Storm!

Welcome back to another Thunderstorm-Straddling episode of Lost in the Farmer’s Market. As you can tell the heat is on and summer officially begins on Saturday, More so the 4th of July occurs the following Saturday so I hope all of you are prepared for a super-happy Fun time week because between those two events it’s going to be off the charts. For today’s topic first I have this image as taken through my office window at the headquarters.

This thunderstorm was an on and off affair lasting a little over an hour and was full of the expected thunder and lightning. But some of you may be wondering what the fuss over a thunderstorm is and that is a simple question to answer. From a basic perspective thunderstorms occur when a mass of cold air meats a mass of warm air causing the fronts to mix and respond with precipitation and of course thunder and lightning. But one other advantage is that the Atmospheric pressure creates both wind and extracts nitrogen from the atmosphere which is delivered to the fields and garden in a soluble form in rain. This alone makes thunderstorms important because they basically both water and fertilize the land. After a series of thunderstorms everything looks super green because all the plants have gotten a nitrogen boost and nitrogen causes a growth spurt and intense greening in plants. Too much nitrogen can cause a plant’s cells to burn out, where as too little causes most plants to become pale and lack vigor. The problem is that nitrogen is capricious, in that it never stays in the soil and thus even the USDA doesn’t bother testing soil samples for it because they know there will be no accuracy in the readings.

Typically we apply nitrogen in a water-soluble form known as Urea nitrogen, which is called urea because we first identified it as a chemical in *drum roll* urine. Fish in a fish tank exchange their urea through their gills which is why when you change the water in your aquariums the water makes for a decent fertilizer. Other creatures exude urea through the skin (amphibians) and in their bodily wastes (birds). If you’ve ever been to a place like Flow & Grow in town, you might see some of the Sunleaves brand bird guano and bat guano fertilizer products. In this case both often have high nitrogen levels but also respectable potassium and phosphorous content. This is because of those two animal’s particular diets. Sea birds eat fish, and fish inherently have a fair amount of urea in their systems. Likewise bats often eat insects and from their chitin exoskeletons calcium, phosphorous and potassium can be extracted through digestion.  In order for these wastes to be processed into fertilizers often they are dried and sterilized so that no pathogens are passed to the user. This leads to one thing that has to be said.

I do not recommend any of you out there using your own bodily wastes as fertilizer or compost due to the risk of transmitting communicable diseases such as typhoid and cholera and or parasites. There are systems like the Bio-toilet out there that allow you to compost your own bodily wastes but if you are going to embark on this I really, suggest you do thorough research first. Oh and make sure you wash your hands…seriously it’s gross.  Moving along there is one happy side effect of having a thunderstorm and that is that frequent but non-drenching rains promotes what I like to call advantageous volunteers. In the new bed that is still under construction a bumper crop of crab grass has appeared and is helping hold the soil in place but in between it a number of edibles have emerged.

This is red Calaloo or a type of amaranth. It volunteered in the new bed from last years seed no doubt. Some see amaranth as a weed, I see it as an edible forage plant with many native edible relatives plus it’s a useful drought tolerant garden plant with an interesting color.

Check this out, of all the rotted sweet potatoes, one somehow survived the winter to sprout in the new bed from the compost I used to build this bed up. I doubt I’ll get anything out of it but it’s still cool to see a success story.

I don’t know the species but I like that some form of squash or gourd is creeping out of the new bed purely on a volunteer basis, this is the most developed out of several examples of volunteering squash in the bed.

This wraps up this week’s post, the market report for this Saturday’s market is on the prior post and this Saturday marks the first Saturday that I am offering Medicinal Aloes for sale. So stop on by and get your instant herbal burn relief.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Exploded Thermometers everywhere!

Welcome back to another episode of Lost in the Farmer’s Market. This is a belated post as it was supposed to be posted last week and so it combines the latest plant with last week’s content. Another post without a plant list will be up shortly as a representative for the current post for this week. If that wasn’t confusing enough, then gosh darn it I’ve not done my job!

First off I’m sure some of you recall the mega storm on Tuesday the 9th but I snapped a few pictures of the strangest part of the event, when the sky turned so bright yellow that it seemed to be bright enough to be high noon.

This effect happens because the sun is shining behind the storm, and this odd color is more likely during sunset when the sun appears more orange-yellow than normal. As freaky as it is it is not a sign of a tornado as some think but rather an odd lighting phenomenon. For note the storm delivered 3” of rain and yet at least around my way as of this writing a week later not a drop to speak of and yet on Tuesday a week later the temperatures hit 101 degrees.

‘Gator’ Aloe nearly in bloom.
The Specimen plant didn’t look too happy, yet here it produced a bloom so sometimes aloes do strange but awesome things. Even so right after this image was snapped I did a little cleaning of dead leaves.

Echinacea purpurea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’
The vaunted red coneflower I sold last year during the summer looks like this when in bloom. These are specimens I planted in the crescent garden to show what the plant could look like in the garden.

Monarda didymus ‘Lambada’
Commonly called Bee balm, this member of the mint family is best known for its pink or red blooms that offer lots of nectar to a large variety of pollinators and humming birds. Note the mildew spots on the leaves, all bee balm tend to get this; it’s rarely fatal to the plant.

Monarda sp. ‘Purification’

This is Purification bee balm; it’s the most successful species of bee balm I’ve ever grown in the south simply for its even spread and reliability. As you can see it’s in full bloom and in the morning it’s practically quivering with pollinators. But of course next week we’ll have some other garden images of plants that are handling the summer heat wave in their own way.

For those not in the know; the Fayetteville City Market is open on Wednesdays between the hours of 12:00 to 5:00pm and on Saturdays between the hours of 9:00 am and 1:00 pm. The market is located at 325 Franklin Street in downtown Fayetteville. We are located on the grounds of the Fayetteville Transportation Museum. The market is a rain or shine event that persists in all but the worst weather. For note I have resumed service on Wednesday markets so you can come on down and not only get the best local foods, but you can now get your garden plants too. Fortunately June has begun with heat humidity and rain and I am responding by turning up the heat. This month you can expect to see some of the world’s hottest pepper plants. But Behold, the latest home grown organic item is now available.

With summer officially beginning on Saturday it is my great pleasure to introduce a critical herbal plant that doubles as a house plant. It is likely that in just a few moments you’ll know what plant I mean in specific but for those who do not recognize it let me tell you about it. This particular herb is considered a tropical and does not tolerate our cold weather however with time and age individual plants can get quite massive and it will produce a tall flower stalk with reddish-pink tube-shaped flowers. We all know it because we’ve seen in in a number of products ranging from beverages to skin protecting cosmetics. It is perhaps the most fundamental introductory plant to the world of succulent plants and indeed every house hold should have one especially if you love to cook. Of course you might know by now that I speak of Aloe barbadensis or as it is commonly called Medicinal Aloe or Aloe Vera. Fortunately the high heat of summer came early and with it the increase in sunburns has prompted me to offer this special plant early to meet the needs of the visitors at the booth. Aloe will be offered in one of three sizes with the larger size coming later.

-          2.5” pot Aloe Vera $3.00
-          3.5” pot Aloe Vera $4.00
-          6” pot Aloe Vera $6.00

Before you ask no this is not the start of Sparklitis month, but rather a response to summer arriving early. The best part is that these aloes were grown organically from a massive mother plant that still resides at the Headquarters. The mother is very vigorous and is currently in a 12” pot with three primary stems. So of course you can figure that the off sets being sold are very vigorous.

But of course this is not the only thing because this week’s market list is below.

3x Pepper, Trinidad Congo
2x Pepper, Trinidad Douglah
1x Pepper, 7-Pot
1x Pepper, Naga Jolokia
2x Pepper, Santaka

4x Tomato, Traveler 76
6x Tomato, Black Krim
4x Tomato, Cherokee Purple
2x Tomato, Brandywine

4x Santolina
2x Rue
1x Artemesia

Friday, June 5, 2015

June so soon?

Welcome back to another episode of Lost In The Farmer’s market. This is the first episode of the summer season where it actually is acting like summer should. We ended a week or two of virtually no precipitation with rising temperatures and humidity. Fortunately we had at least 1.5” of rain to counteract the mini-drought and should be back on schedule for all things agricultural and garden. In the middle of this some great snapshots from the garden were taken and we’ll start the first real post of the summer with those.

Hemerocallis fulva - Tawny Daylily
The true common day lily if there is one has to be this guy right here. They popup in the late spring and persist as foliage all summer. The happy orange flowers of these guys can stand at 2-3 feet tall which makes them ideal for enjoying in a natural setting and for photographing.

Hemerocallis sp. ' Stella' - Stella Day Lily
The day lily is a food forager's ideal plant; it is completely edible but can cause frequent bathroom visits if too much is eaten. Day lilies are named for the fact each bloom unless the temperatures remain cool last for about one full day. Thes are not to be confused with Oriental/ Asiatic lilies which are true lilies (Lilium). Daylilies are actually grouped botanically with leaf-succulents such as aloes and the members of the Red Hot Poker's family (Kniphofia) . Stella is an important variety because it is the daylily that keeps blooming where as traditionally one might get a short bloom season and that was it for the year. As a side note, Daylilies and Oriental Lilies are BOTH poisonous to cats even the pollen can cause acute renal failure so if you have pets be wary.

Delphinum sp. - Larkspur
Good old Larkspur, a plant with a flower almost as complicated in shape as the most exotic orchids. Larkspurs are the late summer blues of the garden and are very adaptable. Common Wildflower seed mixes will have these.

Delphinum sp. - Larkspur
 What's this now? That is a pure white Larkspur who's origins are currently unclear as I only had blue. Not that it's a bad thing to see some random wildflower genes asserting themselves but this single plant was and is quite impressive compared to the one above.

Asclepias curassavica - Scarlet / Swamp/ Tropical Milkweed
I snapped a shot of the scarlet milkweed in the last post, but right after the flowers opened and as you can see they are an epic shade of flamboyant orange and red.

Hypericum sp. - Saint Johns Wort
Saint John's Wort is a herbaceous perennials that  bears incredibly bright yellow blooms followed by what you see above, pearl-like seed capsules which are colorful and almost good enough to be considered a second bloom. However, it should be noted that St. Johns wort is a useful medicinal herb as tinctures and salves made of it's leaves reduce the healing time of bruises and lacerations. Paired with betony which is known as wound wort, the two can be used to accelerate healing.
Lavendula angustifolia ' Lady Anne' - Lady Anne Dwarf Lavender.
Lady Anne was a dwarf variety of lavender I decided to offer this year because of it's tolerance of humidity and it's petite (up to 12") size. This form of English lavender is a better neighbor as it sprawls less and blooms the first year as you can see above.

The bloom of a betony plant.
 The betony family comprises of a large number of herbaceous plants often with the botanical Latin first name of Stachys. You might know it's most famous relative, Lambs Ear, or it's 'weedy' relative Rattlesnake Weed. But as more things bloom you'll see them up here with little tidbits of information and there will be a lot of stuff to talk about as the summer progresses. But I move onward to the market information for this weekend.

For those not in the know; the Fayetteville City Market is open on Wednesdays between the hours of 12:00 to 5:00pm and on Saturdays between the hours of 9:00 am and 1:00 pm. The market is located at 325 Franklin Street in downtown Fayetteville. We are located on the grounds of the Fayetteville Transportation Museum. The market is a rain or shine event that persists in all but the worst weather. For note I have resumed service on Wednesday markets so you can come on down and not only get the best local foods, but you can now get your garden plants too. Fortunately June has begun with heat humidity and rain and I am responding by turning up the heat. This month you can expect to see some of the world’s hottest pepper plants and if that doesn’t suit your fancy, June is the first month I am offering for the first time fig bushes. Bordeaux Regional Nursery is proud to present three types of figs for your culinary delight.

LSU Gold
-          Fruit is green-yellow when ripe and they have pale red flesh inside.
-          Bred for our region by Louisiana State University, LSU handles heat and humidity very well.
-          Good general use fig for all purposes.

-          Sometimes called Violette du Bordeuax.
-          Fruit is ripe when they are a deep purple-black and have red flesh inside.
-          Comparable to Black Mission in sweetness, and is good for cooking.

White Ischia
- Very fast growing, the mother plant puts on several feet a year.
- The fruit is golden-green when ripe and has a reddish flesh.
- Good for use in breads and brewing.

But of course this is not the only thing because this week’s market list is below.

3x Early Black Egg Eggplant
2x Pepper, Flashpoint Habanero
1x Pepper, Cubanelle
1x Pepper, Trinidad Douglah
1x Pepper, 7-Pot
1x Pepper, Naga Viper
1x Pepper, Naga Jolokia
1x Pepper, Chocolate Scorpion
1x Pepper, Santaka
1x Pepper, Aji Pineapple
1x Pepper, Aji Citro
1x Pepper, Aji Limon
1x Pepper, Aji Chinchi Amarillo

2x LSU Gold Fig
2x Negronne
2x White Ischia Fig
3x Ground Cherry, Cossack Pineapple
3x Tomato, Pink Stuffer
3x Tomato, Black Cherry
1x Tomato, Rainbow Cherry
3x Tomato, San Marzano
3x Tomato, Traveler 76
1x Tomato, Underground Rail Road
3x Tomato, Black Krim
3x Tomato, Cherokee Purple
3x Tomato, Brandywine

4x Sweet Basil
1x Thai Basil
1x Cinnamon Basil
2x Santolina
2x Rue
2x Artemesia
4x Tumeric